Before the days of cell phones, computers and fancy sophisticated equipment the pest control industry seemed to get along just fine. Still, the trade marched on with every new innovation and some worked while others fell into obscurity. I must say, with just the advent of the simple beeper device our service did speed up quite a bit and bottom lines increased. Companies actually bragged in advertising about this technological advantage as a benefit for hiring them. Ours was one of those companies. Still, however great technology is and becomes for pest control, there are just some tools and techniques we’ll never out grow even though some would view it as out dated or even barbaric. This is one of those examples.
I felt the buzzing on my belt as I was making my way through the mid morning traffic on I 695 which is Baltimore’s version of the Daytona speedway- I figured to be safe (don’t beep and drive) I’d wrestle with the holster once I got to my exit and keep my hands on the wheel in this jungle of fast moving cars. By the time I got the 5th vibrating alert it was either gonna be a great day for leads or a real emergency so I pulled off a few exits ahead of schedule. The message was to call the office for an urgent service that CANNOT WAIT so I found the first phone booth and plunked in my .35 cents. It was a rat job in Pikesville (just outside of the city) and they had already alerted Tim (my areas technician) about the job and he was told to drop everything and meet me there. Now I’ve been called to rat jobs a hundred times by now in my career but never was such urgency placed on immediate response. The rush turned out to be that this rat had wandered into and was now trapped in a little old ladies kitchen and she was scared to the death. The office told me that the job was already sold for $125.00 but it had to be done NOW or she was calling someone else. Even though I didn’t sell it & thought the price was a bit low- free commission is hard to pass up so off I went to bag a guaranteed sale and a few extra bucks.
Would This BE A Reoccurring Nightmare?
On the way over I remember wondering how was I ever going to get a live rat out of a home? In my job I see the droppings and evidence left behind but hardly ever have to deal with the rat face to face. Normally I set some bait stations or a few traps, leave and just wait for the rodent to come out that night. The next day I look like the hero as the lifeless body of the rodent dangles from my trap and the client is relieved feeling they got their money’s worth. On this job the dang thing was in plain sight and apparently chased the lady as she barely escaped with the phone to call us. This thing was ready for battle and I was worried about my limited options. Maybe I’d open all the doors and chase him out- or set 100 snap traps surrounding the kitchen, maybe she had a gun I could borrow! I dunno but I remember the last account I had to deal with rats actually jumping on and off me. That experience was one main reason I got into sales in the first place. In the end I ended up with more questions than answers as I pulled up to the house but I was in no way prepared for what came next.
Why Is It Always The Sweet Innocent Ones?
The ‘sweet helpless little old lady’ was waiting for me on the front porch and like a buzz saw she tore into me with demands and questions. She caught me by surprise and wanted to know everything I was gonna do for this problem. If what I said didn’t line up with what the office told her- boy, she really flipped her lid. I felt like I was being attacked and I’m the one who dropped everything to help her. And all this time I was being interrogated this rat could be escaping and lord knows I’d never hear the end of that. Just then, like a godsend, Tim my trusted technician came walking around the corner and stated in a very calm but take charge way, “I parked in the alley to be near the back door, let’s bag this thing!” He must have heard the barrage I was being hit with and as smooth as silk he took command of the situation. Row homes in Baltimore were all the same, back doors were from the kitchen and led to the alleys which is where rats and mice loved to run. Tim figured right away that this thing snuck in an open kitchen door and then got trapped inside. As he calmly led the ‘helpless senior’ around the corner he told me to go through the front and he’d have a surprise waiting for me. Tim was a legend in our office for his eh-emm, innovative tools. I’m sure if he’s still in the business today, his arsenal has grown even more impressive but I wouldn’t try to cross any international borders with it.
Even The Pro Gets Jitters
After 30 years you’d think I handled every job in a calm demeanor– truth is even a pro gets ‘butterflies’ in his stomach when face to face with the unpredictable but I have learned the value of being prepared and having the proper tools. I was really nervous coming to the swinging door that separated the living room and kitchen. As if dealing with an uncaged wild animal wasn’t enough, I began to have flash backs of an account where rats actually used my leg and back as a launching ramp. I had never come face to face with so many rats and I thought I had put that type of encounter behind me but would this be another episode? Armed with only a flashlight and my beeper, I stood at the door with visions of blood thirsty vermin filling my mind- Was it right there on the other side of this door waiting to pounce? Was there more than one? What am I going to do when I see it? I could hear Tim and the 80 year accosting him at the back door but by now I had forgotten all about his promise of a surprise that was sure to solve this dilemma. My mind was filled with the many possibilities I now faced. Do I go through slowly and risk it escaping with its blazing speed or pop through quickly and surprise it instead? Either way with no handle on the door I could only push my way through to the unknown and deal with what awaited. I decided to go slow.
So what do you think happened? What tool did Tim have waiting for me? Was it truly a blood thirsty rodent hell bent on vengeance? And just what happened with that old lady anyway to make this story stand out in my mind? The answer to this and all your questions will be answered in part two on Sunday night when I publish the thrilling conclusion. But hey, what the heck? Why not submit some suggestions or guesses of how you think the story should end in the comments below? I’m sure something similar has happened to you and you could easily fill in the blanks. Just don’t be better than me 😉 & I might even include your conclusion as an ‘alternative ending’.